It's there after almost every race. There are running clubs associated with it. Now even Lance Armstrong is in their commercials. In recent years, beer has become increasingly popular in the running community.
One may think that this doesn't make sense. Why would health-conscious runners be associated with something considered unhealthy? Is it the carbs? The cool refreshment?
For many runners, it's the completion of a job well done. But what does it do to our bodies and how can it affect our performance? Here are a few things to consider before cracking that beer.
Before Your Race
Since beer has carbs, it has to be beneficial for carbo loading the night before a race, right? Sadly, no. The amount of carbs that are in one beer are only equivalent to about half a slice of bread. Also, beer can act as a diuretic, leaving runners dehydrated for race day.
To keep your fluids levels high, be sure to drink water before and after that cold one. In addition to dehydration, alcohol consumption may interrupt sleep, leaving you feeling groggy on race day.
Oddly enough, some runners have a beer during a race. In fact, groups like the Hash House Harriers map their runs around local bars, using them as aid stations.
While running tipsy may be a little more fun than running sober, it really isn't going to help your training. Again, since beer is a diuretic, it can ultimately affect your performance. And since it can also impair your judgment, it may not be the safest thing to do while running.
However, occasionally having a cold one during your run isn't going keep you from completing that marathon. Just don't expect it to be the most efficient of training sessions.
Sure, an ice cold beer tastes great after a long run, but what does it do as far your recovery? For one, alcohol's diuretic properties can hamper your hydration, which is vital for recovery.
Alcohol is also processed through the liver, an organ that is vital for muscle recovery. With the liver already overworked from the alcohol, your bodies' ability to properly recover is reduced.
From these angles, drinking and endurance training don't necessarily look like a good mix. But, in moderation, drinking while training is usually OK. Remember to drink plenty of water while at the bar and don't drink too much that it interferes with your nutrition and sleep cycle, both of which are important.
So feel free to crack open that cold one. Just remember that moderation is key.
More: 6 Best Post-Race Beers
What about you? Do you drink and run? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Stay healthy with our nutrition guide.
Dr. Runco is a US Navy Veteran, a Doctor of Chiropractic, owner of the San Diego Running Institute and the Clinical Director of the San Diego Running Institute Sports Injury Clinic. Dr. Runco has competed in 50+ mile races and various marathons. He teaches continuing education at various local colleges and specializes in running injuries, shoes, and equipment and endurance training. For more information, visit www.sdri.net or www.whateverybodyneeds.net